Our Maple Tree

Keeping up with The Maples


Passport to Italy: Florence Day Seven

After our amazing breakfast we made our way to Florence.

Florence was busy, hot and frankly, unfriendly.

The buildings are beautiful and the collection of art is what makes Florence worth a visit. But my experiences there were not my favorite. I think mostly because of the crowds. There were so many people, all pushing and shoving. I felt like a pinball in a pinball machine.

Our first visit was to the Uffizi Gallery; which requires a reservation about a month in advance. Frances’ Lodge helped us require said reservation. The Uffizi gallery was built in 1581, under the request of Granduca Francisco de’ Medici. The Medici family was a very powerful, very wealthy family in Florence. So wealthy that they built their own walk way over the Ponte Vecchio bridge so they didn’t have to walk in the crowds with the peasants.

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The Uffizi Gallery contains some of the greatest works of art in all of art history. Paintings from Filippo Lippi with “Madonna with Child“, Sandro Botticelli with “The Birth of Venus“, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titan. The list goes on. The pictures below are the only pictures we could take at the Uffizi Gallery (stairs leading up to the gallery and the outside view of the gallery). 

Even if we could take pictures they wouldn’t have been any good. There were tons of people in this gallery. I remember standing in front of a picture and a tour guide would come stand in front of me. Next thing I know I am being pushed out of the way by the tourists. It happened more than once too! It was very frustrating! We felt rushed because we were trying to keep ahead of the tour guides. I don’t know if there is a good time to visit the Uffizi Gallery, I pretty sure it is packed all the time.

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After the Uffizzi Gallery we made our way to Castello di Verrazzano’s cafe; because we didn’t get enough the day before! Frances from our B&B told us about this restaurant before we left for Florence. The restaurant was long and skinny, with a lot of customers standing around eating their lunches. The counter was full of freshly made bread and pastries.

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We ordered their focaccia sampler and of course their chianti classico.

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After lunch we went to Florence’s cathedral. The cathedral we see today is the result of 170 years of work and is the 4th largest cathedral in the world. The first stone was laid in 1296, under the direction of Arnolfo di Cambio. The gigantic dome, or Il Duomo, was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and was completed in just 16 years, from 1418 to 1434. The bell tower was begun by Giotto in 1334, carried on after his death by Andrea Pisano and then finished in 1359 by Francesco Talenti.

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As you can see, the exterior is very ornate while the interior is rather simple.

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The interior of the dome on the other hand was very ornate. The dome was painted between 1572 and 1579 by Giorgio Vasari and Frederico Zuccari. The fresco depicts the Last Judgment.

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Next I wanted to climb the stairs to the top of the dome. We asked several people where to go to buy tickets to get to the top. They all pointed us to this line beside the cathedral. So we waited there for about an hour (this was the only place I did not reserve tickets because I was informed that I did not need to). When we got to the end of the line, there was nowhere to buy tickets and the guy monitoring people going in was not helpful at all. I was so frustrated that we wasted an hour for nothing, that we no longer pursued the dome. So unfortunately, we never made it to the top of that magnificent dome. I was very disappointed, but maybe next time.

So after that we strolled around the city. Just taking in the sights. See what I mean about the crowds? And this is supposed to be the off-season!

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Getting off the main streets was helpful.

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We stopped at this square to rest because it had a nice view of a church. Turns out we stumbled upon Basilica of Santa Croce. It is important because it is the burial-place of some of the most famous Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. Pretty cool, uh?

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After our little rest we continued our sightseeing.

Had to stop by Chanel!

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Florence was littered with these “do not enter” signs where people had added their own flair.

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We stopped by this shop because it smelled wonderful. It was full of oils, perfumes and soaps that smelled out of this world good!

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Next we went to see the statue of David in the Accademia. No pictures were allowed. I know everyone has seen pictures of David, but let me tell you, he is much more impressive in person. He is just beautiful, I can’t even describe how wonderful this statue is. And my favorite part in the Accademia was Michelangelo’s unfinished works. They all line up on both sides of the gallery that lead you to David. They were just very interesting sculptures because you could see Michelangelo’s chisel marks. Very cool to see.

After David, we went to the leather market. This was a shock to me because there were so many vendors in the street selling leather products. And they were all yelling at me, grabbing me by the arm to bring me into their stall and forcing leather jackets across my shoulders. I was very uncomfortable. I did not like being in the leather market. So we were not there very long, luckily we found leather jackets we both liked quickly. Afterall, that is why we were there!

Here is the leather market. Lots of people and lots of vendors.

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Up ahead is the leather market. So this is how it works – store owners set up stalls in the main street not far from their stores. If you see something you like in the stall they lead you off the street to their store.

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Here is the store where we purchased our jackets.

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Here are the store owners. They were a brother and sister team. The sister worked the stall in the main street and the brother worked the store.

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After this we were spent. We had been walking around the city and fighting crowds all day long. Before we left for our B&B we stopped by Piazzale Michelangelo. Here you will have the best view of Florence. It was the best part of our trip to Florence. Side note: the parking lot is very crowded and the parking spaces are extremely tiny. We were barely able to get out of the car once we parked. So if you rent a car, make sure you get the smallest one possible! 😉 Our timing was perfect. We got there at dusk and the city is gorgeous all lit up at night.

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Then we made our way back to our B&B. We were so tired that we didn’t really feel like sitting down at a restaurant to eat dinner. So we found a market near by and bought some deli meat, mozzarella and a bottle of wine. Plus, it was a lot of fun to go grocery shopping in a foreign country. We enjoyed this so much that we did it again for lunch the next day! Italy’s mozzarella is out of this world awesome! It does not taste anything like our mozzarella here in the States, it actually has tons of flavor! It was probably my most favorite food I ate in Italy. Also, we got potato chips (I know! We are terrible for getting them!) but they were so good!



So that concludes our seventh day in Italy. Florence really was a beautiful city. I know I did a lot of complaining about this city. It was just so crowded and the locals were really not that friendly. Also, I think we were just so tired from all the walking we had done so far on our trip that we were wearing ourselves out. We averaged 10 to 15 miles a day everyday! I would like to visit Florence again when I am not so exhausted and maybe try to find a time when it isn’t so crowded (if that exist).

Stay tune for more Italy awesomeness!